Durban – THE eThekwini Municipality’s executive committee (Exco) unanimously withdrew a Water and Sanitation report which revealed the department had an unauthorised expenditure of over R40 million in 2019/2020.
The report was to apprise the committee of the unauthorised expenditure incurred in the department relating to an investigation into meter reading and water billing.
The city’s billing system has left many ratepayers angry for years after utility bills were inflated.
In 2018, the department hired three companies to investigate the huge bills. Details of the report were withheld since it was withdrawn from the Exco agenda to allow the relevant authorities to furnish more information which councillors felt was lacking.
Commenting on the withdrawal during the virtual Exco meeting on Tuesday, the DA’s Nicole Graham said more details were required in the report.
“Who decided to appoint companies without following the proper procedure? That the department got value for money can’t be accepted just because the department says so,” Graham said.
The IFP’s Mdu Nkosi said at the meeting: “This is a sensitive issue if one of the three companies involved is already under investigation. Let the report be withdrawn and be brought back with all the relevant details on how the process of awarding these tenders went.”
Later, Nkosi said there was a good side to the report as there were fewer complaints of exorbitant bills from residents since the investigation was undertaken.
“What is questionable is only the procedure and a number of other issues which we hope will be addressed when the report is brought back to Exco,” he said.
It was not clear when the report would be tabled. Water and sanitation is no stranger to controversy.
About a week ago, a multi-disciplinary raid comprising different units from the Hawks raided properties belonging to department employees at different levels and providers in various parts of Durban to recover about R700m stolen through tender fraud and corruption.